What is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?

No scriptural term has every been more misunderstood than the baptism of the Holy Spirit, or a better rendering, baptism in the Holy Spirit. The misunderstanding has caused endless confusion and error of teaching concerning the new birth and the filling of the Spirit.

I will present three views on the subject and then proceed to show the scriptural teachings.

One teaching is that the new birth, the baptism and the filling of the Spirit are all the same experience and always evidenced by speaking with tongues. Since the plan of salvation remains the same throughout the entire church age, then according to this teaching, no one has been born again except those who have spoken in tongues.

Another teaching is that the baptism and filling of the Spirit are the same and received subsequent to the new birth. However, the scriptures state that it is the baptism of the same Spirit that places one into the body of Christ, which is the Church. (For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:13) Then, according to this teaching, one may be born again and yet not be in the Church. This teaching coincides with the prevalent but erroneous idea that the Apostles were born again before the Day of Pentecost. The Apostles walked with Christ in the flesh, but when Jesus died, the old relationship ended and a “new and living way” was instituted, which was the Church. (By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh. Hebrews 10:20) No one, not even the Apostles, could enter into the Church until the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The third and scriptural teaching on this subject is that the new birth and Spirit baptism are synonymous terms. The filling of the Spirit follows, either immediately or later as the born-again believer yields to the Holy Spirit.

The term baptism, from a scriptural definition means, “to place into.” John baptized in water. Jesus baptizes in the Holy Spirit. The new and living way is the baptism in the Holy Spirit which Jesus told His disciples just before His departure. They would receive “not many days hence,” referring to the Day of Pentecost, which is the birthday of the Church.

On the Day of Pentecost, the Apostles received a two-fold experience. First, they were baptized into the Body, the Church, into Christ. Secondly, they were simultaneously filled with the Spirit to do the work of the ministry for which they had been prepared. As a result of the filling of the Spirit, they spoke in other tongues and had other marvelous manifestations of the Spirit. The three thousand were baptized into the body because the scripture says they were added to the Church, but it does not record their filling. In the fourth chapter of Acts, it is recorded that the Apostles were again filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the Word of God with boldness. If the new birth and the filling are the same experience, then the Apostles were born-again a second time. If baptism and filling are the same experience, then they were baptized into the Church a second time. (Acts 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them. . . Verse 31 and when they had prayed, the place was shaken where whey were assembled together: and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and spake the Word of God with boldness.)

The book of Acts is a record of the experience of the early Church, while the epistles give doctrinal teaching or explanation of those experiences.

We will refer to the epistles to find out what the Apostles taught regarding this subject of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Paul gave the key in 1 Corinthians 12:13 when he said, “For by one Spirit are ye all baptized into one body.” In Galatians 3:27 he said, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” These scriptures state definitely and unmistakably that the means of getting into Christ or into the Body, the Church, is the baptism in the Spirit. This proves conclusively that the baptism and the new birth are the same experience.

Speaking with tongues has no connection with the new birth or baptism in the Spirit. Speaking with tongues is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Paul said, “We are all baptized into one body, and have been made to drink of one Spirit.” As one yields to the Spirit and drinks of the Spirit, he will be filled or possessed with the Spirit after he has been baptized into the Spirit (new birth).

If, as some teach, speaking in tongues is the evidence of the new birth or baptism into Christ, what would it be the evidence of when a person speaks in tongues a second time? Someone will say, “All speaking with tongues, except for the first time, is the gift of tongues!” Well, the first time is the gift of tongues, too! There is no other kind of tongues from the Spirit. All other kinds of tongues are counterfeit! Tongues is not of ourselves; it is a supernatural manifestation of the Spirit.

If baptism and filling are synonymous terms, the words could be used interchangeably and we could quote 1 Corinthians 12:13 thus: “For by one Spirit are we all filled into one body,” and we could quote Galatians 3:27, “For as many of you as have been filled into Christ have put on Christ.” However, baptism and filling are not the same terms; therefore, the words cannot be used interchangeably.

So, the only sensible and scriptural thing left to do is to put things in their right place. But, so many take this attitude: “What difference does it make what we believe?” That is a poor attitude to take toward the Word of God. It makes just this much difference: The Bible states in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” Failure to rightly divide the Word of Truth on this subject has wrecked the faith of many, and turned many away from a glorious filling of the Holy Spirit because it has been presented to them erroneously. True Christians have been told that they do not have the Holy Spirit because they have not spoken in tongues, thus discouraging them and destroying their faith.

If speaking with tongues is absolutely inseparably connected with the new birth and baptism into Christ and the Church, it always has been inseparable since the Day of Pentecost. If this be the case, then thousands of martyrs who sealed their testimony with their blood died in vain with a false hope, and they were lost, all except the few who may have spoken in tongues. “But,” says someone, “they didn’t have the light.” Well, it is the Holy Spirit who does the speaking in tongues and He always had the light. When God began to fill his truly consecrated people with the Spirit in 1906, and speak through them in other languages, they did not have the light either; and the outpouring of the Spirit did not indicate the return of the Spirit to Earth after centuries of absence.

Now, for an important closing thought! To be filled with the Spirit, to the extent of the supernatural manifestation of speaking in other languages, is a marvelous experience and a scriptural experience. This experience should be desired by all Christians and will be desired when this truth is scripturally understood.

Every Christian has the Spirit of God, but many Christians have never been filled or possessed with the Spirit. Speaking in other tongues is the highest attainment of spiritual worship and with it comes enduement of power and spiritual freedom such as is not possible otherwise. God is calling His people to surrender their minds and bodies to Him until He can possess and fill them with undreamed glory and use their tongues to sing and speak His praise in other languages. This experience is very much needed to meet the ever-increasing powers of the anti-Christ spirit. To fail to heed God’s call is just as sinful as for sinners to fail to heed the Gospel call.

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